LONDON: Plenty of praise went Jos Buttler’s way, and rightly so, after England’s thrilling one-wicket victory in the final one-day international against Australia in Manchester.
According to ICC, from a desperate position of 114/8 – England still needed 92 runs at that point – Buttler added 81 runs with Adil Rashid for the ninth wicket, and then a nervy 13 with Jake Ball to push the hosts past the line.
The victory meant England won the series 5-0 for their first ever whitewash of Australia in ODIs.
Buttler ended unbeaten on a 122-ball 110* – he was later named Player of the Series – and among the plaudits was one that called him the “best white-ball wicket-keeper batsman in the world”.
That came from Tim Paine, the Australia captain and also a wicket-keeper batsman.
Buttler’s captain Eoin Morgan wasn’t stingy with his praise either. “To produce an innings like that when we needed, and to engage in partnerships with … they’re not tail-enders, they’re our lower order … it’s something that we saw in the past as well (from Buttler) and it’s something that is taken for granted,” said Morgan.
“He used all his experience today, particularly on a wicket that was two-paced, and managed to get us over the line somehow. When he plays like that, he creates a lot of belief in the changing room and amongst the guys, and that rubs off on the confidence level as well. Outstanding.”
There was praise from the opposition camp as well, with Paine asking his young batsmen to learn from the way Buttler goes about building an innings.
“He’s good. He’s very good,” said the Australia captain. “Right now, at the moment, he’d have to be the best white-ball wicket-keeper batsman in the world. I don’t think there’s too many guys to challenge him. MS Dhoni is pretty good, but right at this moment, Jos is at the absolute peak of his powers.
“He understands his one-day game so well and knows his strengths inside-out and just doesn’t go away from him. He’s someone for our batters to watch and see first-hand. Those experiences are going to be really good for D’Arcy Short or Travis Head, to see him and Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy at their best.”
Buttler himself was typically modest when asked to reflect on his knock. “Enjoyable innings to be able to play,” he said. “When you’re out there, you’re thinking you need to be there at the end. That’s all your planning is about, and taking it back from there, really. It’s obviously a great feeling, hitting the winning runs, and coming off and winning games when you probably didn’t deserve to. They’re the more enjoyable ones.”
He went on to credit Ball for hanging around for 10 balls for the final wicket – it gave Buttler enough time to see his team through. “When they first came in with the field, I thought it was the obvious time to take the shot on. We needed five,” Buttler recounted. “I said to him, ‘if it’s two, we’ll run. If it’s one, I’ll take strike and we’ll maybe run at the end of the over’. I smashed to long-off, didn’t see the guy, and I just ran. That probably was a poor decision from my part, and great credit to him to come out and face the balls.
“All credit to him. It’s a tough thing to do, to soak up that pressure and deal with that. Huge feather in his cap to know he’s come through.”
England and Australia will next clash in a one-off Twenty20 International in Birmingham on Wednesday.